Police Documentation of Drunk Driving Arrests, 1984-1987: Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston (ICPSR 9400)

Principal Investigator(s): Snortum, John R., et al.


These data measure the effects of blood alcohol content coupled with officer reports at the time of arrest on driving while intoxicated (DWI) case outcomes (jury verdicts and guilty pleas). Court records and relevant police reports for drunk-driving cases drawn from the greater metropolitan areas of Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles were compiled to produce this data collection. Cases were selected to include roughly equal proportions of guilty pleas, guilty verdicts, and not-guilty verdicts. DWI cases were compared on the quality and quantity of evidence concerning the suspect's behavior, with the evidence coming from any mention of 20 standard visual detection cues prior to the stop, 13 attributes of general appearance and behavior immediately after the stop, and the results of as many as 7 field sobriety tests. Questions concerned driving-under-the-influence cues (scoring sheet), observed traffic violations and actual traffic accidents, the verdict, DWI history, whether the stop resulted from an accident, whether the attorney was public or private, and sanctions that followed the verdict. Also included were demographic questions on age, sex, and ethnicity.

Access Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


Data File - Download All Files (1.14 MB)
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII   
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   

Study Description


Snortum, John R., et al. POLICE DOCUMENTATION OF DRUNK DRIVING ARRESTS, 1984-1987: LOS ANGELES, DENVER, AND BOSTON. 3rd ICPSR version. Claremont, CA: Claremont McKenna College, Dept. of Psychology [producer], 1990. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1998. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09400.v3

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09400.v3

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (86-IJ-CX-0056)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    arrests, court cases, driving under the influence, pleas, verdicts

Geographic Coverage:    Boston, California, Colorado, Denver, Los Angeles, Massachusetts, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1984--1987

Data Type(s):    event/transaction data and administrative records data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) Part 2 is a set of SPSS program statements supplied by the principal investigator that recode the original variables and compute new variables to produce an expanded analytical file. (2) The codebook and data collection instrument are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.


Data Source:

case narratives produced by police officers at the time of arrest and court records


Original ICPSR Release:   1990-10-16

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.
  • 1998-02-18 The card image data has been converted to logical record length, and the SPSS program statements that had been included in the card image file are being released separately, as Part 2. Also, the SPSS data definition statements were updated for use with the logical record length version of the data, and SAS data definition statements have been added to this collection. In addition, the codebook and data collection instrument are provided as a PDF file.

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